“You don’t look gay.”
“Are you sure?”
“You just haven’t met the right guy yet.”
“You’re probably just bi.”
These are the responses I get almost every time I mention my girlfriend or the fact that I’m gay to someone new.
Ever since I was young I never felt like I completely fit in. I always had good friends but I somehow felt a little different. The feeling was kind of like an outsider looking in. I could never really understand why I felt that way.
This became even worse in seventh grade when my father passed away suddenly of a heart attack. This was obviously a very hard thing for me to deal with. From that time on, I assumed that the reason I didn’t feel like I fit was that all of my friends had a traditional family. They had both a mom and a dad and I no longer had that. This was until some point in eight grade.
Up until this point, when one of my friends had a “boyfriend”, it only meant that they would sit at the same lunch table. I don’t remember when this changed but I do remember my friends beginning to talk about having their first kiss.
This is when I began to have thoughts and feelings about liking girls.
I didn’t really have an interest in kissing boys. The thought of kissing a girl was more exciting to me but I could never tell anyone this. I knew I’d have to kiss a boy eventually or my friends would think I was weird or different than they were. So I sat in my bedroom one day and basically told myself, “you’re not gay, that’s crazy.” I decided I would pretend to like boys and I would kiss a boy and eventually maybe it would be true.
After this, I did not really think about being gay for a while. I was girly and I “looked straight” so I had to be straight. I had my first kiss, I would talk about the hottest celebrities with my friends, hangout with boys, and even “date” boys. I was never serious about anyone but I did casually date a few people sophomore and junior year. The more I did this however, the more fake I felt. Every once and a while those scary thoughts would come up again. They were getting harder to ignore each time they did.
Junior year was when I really knew I was gay. I knew one day I’d have to accept it and I just didn’t want to. I mean, how could I admit that I was gay? How would anyone even believe me?
I didn’t look gay, so I had to be wrong because “girly” girls like me are not supposed to like girls. I never saw any gay women who looked like me and I never fit the outline of a stereotypical lesbian. Sports were never my thing and I’ve always like “girly” things like fashion and makeup. In the media most gay women look like Ellen Degeneres, so I didn’t think I could be gay.
This was the most confusing part for me because I was too “gay” to be straight but I was too girly to be gay.
This changed when one day, while scrolling though my phone, I saw a link to a YouTube video titled “I’m Gay.” Making sure nobody found out that I watched this video, I opened a private browser on my laptop and searched the video.
Once I clicked on it, I saw something that changed my entire outlook on my sexuality.
The girl in the video had long hair and a full face of makeup on. She was sitting in front of a pink wall with flowers and a clothing rack behind her. She looked like me. If she was gay, I could be gay. Seeing that opened my eyes and really pushed me to accept my own sexuality.
In my junior year, once I was sure that I was gay, I began dating girls a little bit. I even came out for the first time to a good guy friend who is also gay. Then, eventually came out to all of my friends and family. Almost everyone I came out to originally was shocked because I don’t look gay. But I am incredibly fortunate that they were accepting.
However, the first few times I came out to someone and they looked so shocked, it made me feel like I made a mistake.
These reactions had sometimes made me feel like I wanted to go back into the closet and I would never fit into any category.
It didn’t help that people in school were talking about it and I would hear rumors about myself around school. I went to a high school where news about students spread like wildfire. This sometimes made me feel like I did the wrong thing by coming out. I felt like I did back in seventh grade, like I didn’t belong again.
As time went on, I realized that nobody really cared that much and it was quickly old news. Soon I was no longer the gay girl, I was kind of just me.
My biggest fear was other gay women not accepting me, thinking I was just experimenting, or were looking for someone who looked more like a lesbian than I do. I knew if I couldn’t fit in with other lesbians, I would never feel like I belonged and all of my fears would become reality.
Once I began dating girls and going on dating apps, I realized that there are lots of other gay women out there who look like me. I wasn’t alone. It made all of the comments and surprised faces sting a little less.
I have now realized that I am going to always have to deal with not “looking gay”. Some people are unaware that girls like me can be gay.
Now, four and a half years after originally coming out, I’m used to the shock people get when I tell them. I can also tolerate the ignorance of people who try to tell me who I am. It still doesn’t feel good to be told things like “you just haven’t met the right guy yet” and “you’re probably just bi”. But now I know who I am and I can even correct some of these people from time to time.
Everyone knows feeling like you don’t belong isn’t a good feeling and I have felt like that plenty. I still do sometimes, but I know that I’m gay and I won’t let anyone tell me otherwise.
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Amanda is a junior at LIM College where she is studying Fashion Merchandising. She happily lives in New York City.